Kathie Lee Gifford returned to the Today show this morning for the first time since her husband and football legend Frank Gifford passed away.
The 62-year-old paid tribute to her late husband, to whom she was married to for 29 years, and thanked her friends, family, and fans for their unconditional support over the last week.
"I want to thank everybody for your love and your texts and your tweets and just the outpouring has been extraordinary," she said. "It’s a heck of a way to find out how loved you are. Believe me, my family and I got strength and comfort from it."
She also explained that the morning of his death, the soon-to-be 85-year-old was going about his regular routine before he passed away of natural causes.
"He passed away instantly that morning. All dressed in what he knew was my favorite outfit – white shirt, very tight black jeans – having his coffee, watching his TV," she said. "Getting ready to go to church. And excited about what we were going to have for lunch."
"I'm grateful that the Lord took him that way because the only thing Frank has ever been afraid of his entire life was being a burden to those he loved."
"He never wanted to be hooked up to machines, he never wanted to lose his dignity," she explained. "He'd seen so much of that through the years and that's what I had prayed, that the Lord would take him the way he wanted to go."
But the waterworks didn't start until Hoda Kotb showed her co-host an adorable video that 5-year-old singer Heavenly Joy from America's Got Talent recorded for her. The young girl made a video of herself singing "This Little Light of Mine" and ended it with a special message for Kathie saying, "Bye, Kathie. You're light shines all around the world."
"I've held it together for a week," Kathie said between tears. "And this little Heavenly Joy girl... bless her heart."
Much to Kathie's surprise, Heavenly Joy walked out on stage with flowers.
"You've already found out what an incredible blessing you can be, what a difference you can make in people's lives," Kathie told the young girl.
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